Me and My Mac

The Care and feeding of your Power Pack

The Power Pack that comes with your mac has a long cord that is used to attach (magnetically) to your mac. Please be careful when winding the cord. The portion of the cord that attaches to the Power Pack is most sensitive and will fray or split easily if you don't pay attention over time to how it is wound up. Monitor how students wind cords on the Power Packs too. The Power Packs are pricey to replace. If your cord is beginning to frey we can remedy with some electrical tape.

The adapter section that plugs into the wall is also somewhat sensitive. It is called the 'duckhead." You can remove the duckhead if you would like an "extention" cord to give you extra length. If your duckhead is completely broken they can be replaced.

The Care and Feeding of your Battery

New MacBook batteries are very powerful but the 'actual' daily battery life will depend on what your are doing. If you are using video it will run down far more quickly than if you are editing text. Here are some ways to maximize the battery life of a MacBook: (
Optimal Setting
You can choose to use your Apple MacBook in a way that maximizes its battery life.
  • Energy: The Energy Saver control panel offers several settings that determine power levels for your MacBook. Your portable knows when it’s plugged in, and runs accordingly. When on battery power, it will dim the screen and use other components sparingly. If you change this setting to maximize performance, your battery will drain more quickly.
  • Brightness: Dim the screen to the lowest comfortable level to achieve maximum battery life. For instance, when watching a DVD on an airplane, you may not need full brightness if all the lights are off.
  • AirPort Wireless: AirPort consumes power, even if you are not using its features to connect to a network. You can turn it off in its control panel to save power.
  • Bluetooth Wireless: Likewise, you can turn off Bluetooth to maximize your battery life, as it also consumes power when not in use.
  • Applications and peripherals: Disconnect peripherals and quit applications not in use. Eject CDs and DVDs if not currently accessing them.

MacBook batteries need to be USED to stay in good working order. If you ALWAYS use a power adapter (plug in) your laptop your laptop's internal battery will slowly begin to not hold a charge and will be useless. To avoid needing a replacement battery please pay attention to your battery and how it charges.

You will know you have a problem with your battery if you see an 'X' over the battery icon on your MacBook top menu bar, or, if your MacBook immediately shuts down / screen goes black when it is not plugged in, and, chances are you will need a new battery. If either of these occur, you will only be able to use your MacBook when plugged into a power source.
The battery needs to be recalibrated from time to time to keep the onscreen battery time and percent display accurate and to keep the battery operating at maximum efficiency. You should perform this procedure when you first use your computer and then every few months after that. If you normally leave your MacBook connected to AC power and very rarely use it on battery power you may want to perform this process once a month. The website has more helpful information regarding batteries and offers an iCal calendar to remind you to calibrate your battery.

The battery in your MacBook is a finicky thing. It likes to be used. If you "plug in" your MacBook perpetually and, therefore, never let the built in battery power your Macbook the battery will die...a slow death. To avoid this perform a "callibration" which is basically - plugging in your laptop and then draining the battery. Read the how-to below:

How to "callibrate" your MacBook battery:
1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge your MacBook's battery until the light ring or LED on the power adapter plug changes to green and the onscreen meter in the menu bar indicates that the battery is fully charged.
2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for at least two hours. You may use your computer during this time as long as the adapter is plugged in.
3. Disconnect the power adapter while the computer still on and start running the computer off battery power. You may use your computer during this time. When your battery gets low, the low battery warning dialog appears on the screen.
4. At this point, save your work. Continue to use your computer; when the battery gets very low, the computer will automatically go to sleep.
5. Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or more.
6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged again.

Helpful Me and My Mac Videos

Mac: The Basics (Video) Click here to see a quick video on the 'anatomy' of a Mac, another on using iChat, or Wireless or the Mail program - plus many more.
Here are other video tutorials to keep you and your MacBook happy. Many of these tutorials are also EXCELLENT to use with students:
1. Mac 101 - Great orientation to your MacBook
2. Switch 101 - Are you a former PC user? This link is great for you.
3. Subscribe to the MAC Tips Daily podcast in iTunes! Fabulous two minute tutorials! Go to the iTunes Store (in iTunes) and search for 'Mac Tips Daily' in the upper right hand corner.


Click here to go to the iChat page. iChat can be used for 'instant messaging' between staff and even students. iChat provides a real-time communication opportunity which is far more efficient than email. iChat can be used when you are at school or at home and works between PC's and Macs. It operates using AOL instant messenger. An added bonus? Users can transmit files (images, word docs, ppts...) via iChat.


Mail is the 'Mac' email program. Click here to learn more about Mail.


1. How do I change settings or make this Mac 'my own'?
  • Go to 'System Preferences' which is listed in the drop down menu under the Black Apple in the top left corner of your title bar menu.
  • Among other things, System Preferences (Control Panel on a PC) will allow the user to make desktop / screensaver changes, Dock changes and set up the Expose' and 'Spaces' features. Under the Black Apple you will also see choices for restarting, logging off and shutting down your computer.
2. What is the 'Finder' window finder.jpg?
  • On a PC the 'Finder' window would be similar to the My Documents window. Located on the left side of the Dock the Finder will let you navigate through your network, and files.
3. I am used to 'right-clicking' - how can I do this with a Mac?
  • Simple - you can right-click on a Mac by doing a 'control-click' which means you hold down the 'control' key (bottom left of keyboard) and then click. You will then see the familiar 'drop-down' menu. However, many of the new 'mice' now will give you the right-click feature too.
4. Can I play CD's or DVD's on my Mac?
  • Yes, not only will you be able to interact with DVD's and CD's but your Mac comes with a 'superdrive' which will allow you (and students) to create or burn movie-like DVD's
5. The text on some webpages seems small - anything I can do about that?
  • Sure, try the keyboard shortcut: Command-+ (Click the 'command key and hold it down while clicking the plus sign to increase text size and command-(minus sign) to decrease text size.
6. What is the deal about being able to create a PDF from a Word doc (or other) on a Mac?
  • Yes, it is true. You can easily create a PDF on a Mac. Here is how you do it. When you are ready - go to PRINT your document. In the print window, look in the bottom right corner for the PDF button - choose 'SAVE AS A PDF' and you are done:

7. My screen/monitor is BLACK - My computer looks like it is off but I NEVER turned it off - How do I know if my computer is Off or On?''
  • When your computer is in 'sleep mode' or saving energy and the lid is closed - the 'display' light located on the front right edge of your laptop will glow off and on to tell you that your computer is still on. Attaching a power supply will WAKE UP a computer that is very low on reserve power, but, be patient as it may take a few minutes to activate. So, if you think your computer is or should still be on attach a power supply before depressing the power button.
8. Are there any good KeyBoard shortcuts that I should know about?
  • Yes, click here to go to a tutorial that will show you the top MAC keyboard shortcuts.
9. Anything I need to know about 'shutting down'?
  • Yes, actually - IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: When you shut down your computer will go thru a process and if you close your laptop immediatley upon selecting 'shutdown' that process will be interrupted and bad things can happen. You could lose the last document you were working on or your document may not be saved to the network. The best procedure is to make sure that you see your login window (or your screen is black) when you close your laptop.
10. What is up with this 'Syncing' business?